NCFS 2001 -- University of Wisconsin, Madison

Roundtable on Pedagogical Issues: Experiences and Experiments

Updated: March 14, 2003

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Stage 1: Monitory Tales of Education in the Graduate Literature Seminar

 Course description

 Course requirements

 Bibliography - Primary

 Bibliography - Secondary

AROUSAL BY IMAGES: Nineteenth-Century Pygmalion Narratives

Graduate seminar:
Spring 2001, French Department (Fridays 2 - 5 p.m.)
Instructor: Liz Constable
Office Hours: Thursdays 11- 1 p.m. and 4 - 5 p.m., or preferably by appt. for graduate students
Office Location: 505 Sproul
Office Extension: 752-5228
E-mail address:


This seminar will examine the mid to late nineteenth-century vogue in France for re-writings of Ovid's Pygmalion story from Metamorphoses. Ovid's story of the sculptor who falls in love with his own creation, which is then brought to life, is a familiar one. Nineteenth-century French writers took this tale as the point of departure for narratives that raise key questions about the blurring of aesthetic and erotic experiences. From a Kantian perspective, the boundaries of the aesthetic experience exclude desire, and call for distance; if there is desire for an object, there is no aesthetic experience in Kant's system. However, the Pygmalion tale, where a work of art arouses desire, offers rich material for nineteenth-century writers. Through their transformations of this tale, writers question definitions of "good taste" and the beautiful; examine the links between looking and desiring; question what it means to bring a representation to life or to use technology to animate the inanimate; and examine the connections between fantasies of the real and sexual arousal. Through studying different rewritings of this tale, we will trace the emergence of the principles of a transgressive aesthetics from the mid-nineteenth century onwards in France, an aesthetics that finds a full expression in decadent and modernist writings.

Balzac's Le chef d'oeuvre inconnu (1830)
Gautier's Arria Marcella (1852)
Merimée's Vénus d'Ille (1837)
Rachilde's Monsieur Vénus (1884)
Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's l'Eve future (1886)
Zola's L'oeuvre (1886)

¨15-20 page research paper. I'd like you to prepare a paragraph outlining the direction of your research, together with a brief bibliography for Week 8 of the quarter. I'd like you to make copies of this "outline" for all the seminar members as well as a copy for me. Each one of you will set up an appointment to meet with me to discuss your topics no later than the beginning of Week 9, and during the seminar in Week 8, we'll allocate time for seminar discussion of each other's proposals.
¨Oral presentation of a critical text to the seminar group: this will take the form of leading a section of the seminar discussion.
¨Participation in seminar discussions, both during seminar meetings and over e-mail.


Primary Works

(1) Precursors

Voltaire (1748), Pandore
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1762-1770), "Pygmalion, scène lyrique."

(2) Nineteenth Century

Balzac, Honoré de. (1825), Wann-Chlore
Latouche, Henri de (1929), Fragoletta
Hoffmann, E.T.A. (1830), "L'homme au sable"
Balzac, Honoré de (1831), "Sarrasine"
Balzac, Honoré de (1831) "Le chef d'oeuvre inconnu"
Dumersan Th. And Brazier N. (1832), Le Pygmalion du faubourg Saint-Antoine ou le mouleur de plâtre
Latouche, Henri de (1833) "Vocation"
Sand, George (1833), Lélia
Gautier, Théophile (1835-6), Mademoiselle de Maupin
Hoffmann, E.T.A. (1835-6), "L'Église des Jésuites."
Quinet, Edgar (1838), "Prométhée"
Gautier, Théophile (1839), "La Morte amoureuse"
Gautier, Théophile (1839), "La Toison d'or"
Daumier, Honoré(1842), "Histoire ancienne"
Gautier, Théophile (1845), "Le Roi Candaule"
Saint-Léon, Arthur (1847), La Fille de marbre
Barbier, Jules et Carré, Michel (1851), Les Contes de Hoffmann
Barbier, Jules et Carré, Michel (1851), Galathée
Champfleury (Jean Husson, dit) (1852), "L'Homme aux figures de cire"
Gautier, Théophile (1852), "Arria Marcella"
Barrière Th. and Thiboust L. (1853), Les Filles de marbre
Ménard, Louis (1855), "Pygmalion"
Banville, Théodore de (1859), "Galatée idiote"
Gautier, Théophile (1872), L'Amour soufflé où il veut"
Hugot, Eugène (1872), Pygmalion, étude réaliste
Basiliadis, S.N. (1878), Galatée
Gautier, Théophile (1879), "La Statue amoureuse"
Hennique, L. and Huysmans J.K. (1881), Pierrot sceptique
Banville, Théodore de (1882), "La Lydienne"
Silvestre, Armand (1884), "Le faux Pygmalion"
Villiers de l'Isle-Adam A. (1886), L'Eve Future
Zola, Emile (1886), L'Oeuvre
Lorrain, Jean (1887), "Madame Pygmalion"
Ricard, Jules (1889), "Le Suicide d'hier"
Gourmont, Réme de (1890), Sixtine
Huysmans J.K. (1891), Là-Bas
Lemonnier, Camille (1892), "La belle Impéria"
Rachilde, (1897), Les hors nature
Ordonneau, Maurice (1898), La Poupée
Trarieux, Gabriel (1898), Pygmalion et Daphné

(3) Au tournant du siècle

Régnier, Henri de (1900), "La Femme de marbre"
Cros, Charles (1908), "Galatée et Pygmalion"
Renard, Maurice (1909), "La Statue ensoleillée"
Shaw, George Bernard (1912), Pygmalion

Secondary Works (A selection)

Anzalone, John, Jeering Dreamers: Essays on L'Eve Future. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1996.

Arscott, Caroline,"Venus as Dominatrix: nineteenth-century artists and their creations," Manifestations of Venus: Art and Sexuality, Caroline Arscott and Katie Scott, MUP (2001): 109 - 125.

Bauer, Douglas. "The Function of Pygmalion in the Metamorphoses of Ovid," Transactions of the American Philological Association 93 (1962): 1 - 21.

Bloom, Michelle E., "Pygmalionesque Delusions and Illusions of Movement: Animation from Hoffmann to Truffaut," Comparative Literature 52:4, Fall 2000:291-320.

Bronfen, Elisabeth. Over Her Dead Body: Death, Femininity and the aesthetic, New York: Routledge, 1992.

Carr, J.L. "Pygmalion and the Philosophes: The Animated Statue in Eighteenth-century France," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 23 (1960): 239-55.

Castex, Pierre-Georges, Le Conte fantastique en France de Nodier à Maupassant, Paris: J. Corti, 1951.

Chambers, Ross, "Gautier et le complexe de Pygmalion," Revue d'Histoire Littéraire de la France July-August 1972 (#4): 641-658.

Crary, Jonathan. Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990.

David-Weill, Natalie. Rêve de Pierre: La quête de la femme chez Théophile Gautier, Geneva: Droz, 1989.

Didi-Huberman,Georges. La Peinture incarnée. Paris: Minuit, 1985.

Epstein, Edna Selan. "The Entanglement of Sexuality and Aesthetics in Gautier and Mallarmé," Nineteenth-Century French Studies 1 (1972): 5 - 20.

Felski, Rita. "The Art of Perversion: Female Sadists and Male Cyborgs," The Gender of Modernity, Harvard UP, 1995: 174-206

Freud, Sigmund. "The Uncanny" (1919)

Harter, Deborah A. Bodies in Pieces: Fantastic Narrative and the Poetics of the Fragment, Stanford: Stanford UP, 1996.

Hawthorne, Melanie C. "Monsieur Vénus: A Critique of Gender Roles," Nineteenth-Century French Studies 16 (1987-88): 162-179.

Kelly, Dorothy. Fictional Gender: Roles and Representation in Nineteenth-Century French Narrative, University of Nebraska Press, 1989: 143-155.

Kermode, Frank. Romantic Image. New York: Macmillan, 1957.

Lathers, Marie. The Aesthetics of Artifice: Villiers's L'Eve future, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

----------------. "The Decadent Goddess: L'Eve future and the Venus de Milo" in Anzalone 47-66.

Miller, J. Hillis. "Proem: Pygmalion's Prosopopoeia," Versions of Pygmalion, Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1990: 1 - 12.

Johnson, Barbara. A World of Difference. Baltimore: JHU Press, 1987.

Shaw, Jennifer, "The Figure of Venus: rhetoric of the ideal and the Salon of 1863,", Manifestations of Venus: Art and Sexuality, Caroline Arscott and Katie Scott, MUP (2001): 90 - 105.

Ziolkowski, Theodore. Disenchanted Images: A Literary Iconology, Princeton: Princeton UP, 1977.


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